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On Building a Sub $1000 PC

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  • Homebuilt
  • Speakers
  • Computer
  • Systems
  • Product
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June 27, 2007 6:36:47 PM

Recently I put together a computer for my sister who wanted to keep the price within reason at $1000. I haven't built a PC in years, but after completing her PC, I have come up with some ideas about building PC's that I think are somewhat unique.

My big idea is that your main focus has to be on the user experience. I'm not talking OS here, I'm talking chassis, display, speakers, keyboard mouse. For a non-technical PC user, it's what they touch, hear, and see that is the computer, not what CPU they have. I spent more than half of the money on these things, and the PC looks very, very nice. Thanks to klipsch speakers, it sounds nice too.

It really is great to buy expensive peripherals rather than expensive components. You won’t be watching in horror as the new stuff comes out that blows your stuff out of the water. A 20” LCD display is always a 20” LCD display. A nice set of speakers is always a nice set of speakers. Also, your monitor will never be brought to its knees by a new game.

The downside is obvious; the computer will not be as fast as it could have been. But that won’t matter much as long as you plan on upgrades and make this easy to do. If you think of a computer not as a single machine, but as a sort of sequence of upgrades (think of your first computer, and everything between that and your current computer), it doesn’t hurt that much to make one of your upgrades a device upgrade rather than a performance upgrade.

More about : building 1000

June 27, 2007 7:07:34 PM

User Experience is all about the monitor, case, mouse and keyboard. I bought a Shuttle SFF system for my last build for this exact reason. My wife's will probably be similar... something like this

Shuttle XPC SN27P2 - $339
GIGABYTE GV-NX85T256H GeForce 8500GT HDCP - $82
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ - $59
GeIL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 - $80
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB - $80
Acer AL2223Wd Black-Silver 22" 5ms DVI Widescreen - $240
Microsoft 69M-00006S Gray&Black RF Mouse & Keyboard - $60

$940 + shipping for a great looking PC
a b B Homebuilt system
June 27, 2007 7:08:54 PM

Having added a widescreen LCD, G11 keyboard and G5 mouse to my system within the last year, I think you have a point. My eyes burn at the mere thought of staring at a flickering 15" CRT, and if someone handed me a roller-mouse, I would assume it was for castration and disposal, not connection to a PC.
Still, the "guts" have to handle the applications (including games) for which you bought the PC. Minimum performance and capacity requirements must be met. That beautiful 22" widescreen will look hideous if you have to play at 800x600 to get even 30fps.

But once the minimums are met, if the question is where to put some extra money, I think you're right. Performance upgrades can always be done as requirements change and the budget allows.
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June 27, 2007 7:17:01 PM

get at least x1950pro and dont get lower then a high-mid range catagory card cause its jus terrible bad performance. and the 8600 series sucks

if u really wana get a pc that looks gd, wait for imacs to get santa rosa update with dx10, but thats gona put u a few hundred over 1k and apple=no upgrading. its a purely looks buying decision, if apple ever does make their comps upgradable, its gona be controlled by them, in other words, buy their gfx cards
June 27, 2007 7:29:12 PM

Well the key is building the computer for the user.

If your sister was an Oblivion freak, then the guts may be more critical.
If she spends more time blogging, IMing, or playing things like WoW, then you are correct.

They key is knowing the user.

Myself, I could care less about appearence.
However, a Good monitor or Monitor(s) in my case are critical.

They keyboard better feel good to the fingers.
The mouse better respond well.

Sound? I rarely use it. I prefer to use the TV as background noise.
Oh, I may use sound sometimes but it is off more often than not.
So in my case, toss me a pair of $0.99 speakers.
June 27, 2007 7:40:51 PM

Exactly... there's not a lot of sense in picking up an 8800GTX for my wife's IM/email/facebook usage... it makes her happy to have the big pretty screen and the small computer. Same for my mother.

The 8600 series only sucks in certain respects... read HardOCP.com for reviews based on game usage and maybe you'd understand. the 8600GTS I have is awesome for any game I've tried to play at 1400x900.
June 27, 2007 8:53:01 PM

Quote:
Well the key is building the computer for the user.

I guess that's true.

Even so, I'd try to talk people into getting the better periphials. I think in the long run it has a lasting value. Sometimes people have their own ideas about the value of things though.

I built a computer for a friend, well, for his soon-to-be step father in fact, as a gift for his soon-to-be step son. I wanted to get him a nice LCD monitor and kick@ss speakers. The guy was a jerk though, kept saying how he knew the real prices of things, knew that a flats screen didn't cost $400 because they had ones at work that cost $100 ... He cut the budget from 1500 to 1000. That, and he only gave me the money for the whole thing a few days before christmass and wanted it done by new years.

And it had to be a gaming machine, so I had to scrap the idea of a nice monitor and speakers.
June 27, 2007 9:29:56 PM

One the one hand, I agree with you. Things like your monitor and speakers shouldn't be skimped over because they don't go obsolete and will last you forever. I have a set of klispch speakers that are 5 years old and I don't know why I would ever need another set of computer speakers.

On the other hand, if I had you to build me a PC with a budget of $x and you sacrificed performance for better peripherals, I would stab you.

I think the right thing to do would be to say, "your budget really only allows for low quality peripherals and I think you'll find its worth your while to spend a little bit more." The luxurious keyboard won't really improve the experience of waiting for my programs to load, and the big ass lcd will only piss me off when my games have to run at 640/480.
June 27, 2007 10:15:00 PM

Quote:
On the other hand, if I had you to build me a PC with a budget of $x and you sacrificed performance for better peripherals, I would stab you.


Well, I'm sure the performance would have to be sacrificed in a very provoking manner to elicit your response. What if the performance were sacrificed in a very timid, subservant way? Might one get by with only a punch in the face?
June 27, 2007 11:41:13 PM

Here's another option for a case, PSU, and fan(s):

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
2x http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~$116

An AMD Motherboard and CPU:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~$188

Or an Intel Motherboard and CPU:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~$181

Personally, I like the case better than the case mentioned by hokiejimbo, as it is Way less $$$ and looks better too (in my opinion). You could opt for cheaper parts in the computer, but these should be able to run a computer relatively fast for quite some time (you could stably overclock too). Other than the parts listed I belive that you should go with what hokiejimbo said, unless your sister is one of the 12 or so female gamers :)  .
June 28, 2007 1:11:56 AM

I'm in complete agreeance but then so is much of the computer world. miniATX motherboards with integrated graphics, network, sound. Add a X2 3800, 1GB RAM. That computer will cost half of a 24" LCD but won't drive any games at 1920x1200. For a non gamer it's always been a bit silly to get the $20 kb&mouse package if you're spending $500 on the box.

You want to be careful saying monitors last the distance. If you'd splashed over $1000 for a nice 17" 1024x768 LCD 4-5 years ago you'd have been pissed off shortly after. And if SED or OLED (or whatever the new techs are) blow away LCDs we might feel a bit silly having bought our 30" monitor that suddenly looks like dirty ass by comparison.
June 28, 2007 2:45:52 AM

My siggy build below is only around US$725. There's enough left-over to upgrade my 1024x768 15" LCD to a wide-screen 20 or 22" at 1680x1050.

the Oh S#!t isn't included, but all parts are Vista Cert/Works.

As the CPU & Graphx prices drops, it gets better. For US$1200, I get 1920x1200, and a decent chance to play it.

f61
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